Clearing the mind: A working memory model of distraction from negative mood

Lotte F. Van Dillen, Sander L. Koole
2007 Emotion  
The present research examined whether and how loading working memory can attenuate negative mood. In three experiments, participants were exposed to neutral, weakly negative, or strongly negative pictures followed by a task and a mood scale. Working memory demands were varied by manipulating task presence (Study 1), complexity (Study 2), and predictability (Study 3). Participants in all three experiments reported less negative moods in negative trials with high compared to low working memory
more » ... and. Working memory demands did not affect mood in the neutral trials. When working memory demands were high, participants no longer reported more negative moods in response to strongly negative pictures than to weakly negative pictures. These findings suggest that loading working memory prevents mood-congruent processing, and thereby promotes distraction from negative moods. Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.
doi:10.1037/1528-3542.7.4.715 pmid:18039038 fatcat:wej4pjghwraj7i7ele7fp3i6du